ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday reiterated that Pakistan would stand by its Turkish brothers and sisters in the wake of a devastating earthquake with all possible relief assistance.
In an interview with Anadolu news wire, the prime minister said they were deeply grieved at this very difficult situation and expressed the hope that the Turkish people with their resilience under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would overcome the post-quake challenges. He said President Erdogan was leading from the front along with his team. Undaunted by the extreme weather conditions, they were marching forward with a sense of purpose.
“Things are extremely difficult, but the resolve of the Turkish nation is strong,” he said adding, the Turkish nation, in the past, had fought for their freedom by offering sacrifices. “Out of this challenge, there is an opportunity, and no doubt, they will convert this destruction into a wonderful construction,” the prime minister opined.
The prime minister said Pakistan and Turkiye were like two souls and one heart. He said that after the earthquake, he spoke to President Erdogan on the telephone and offered condolences and everything they had in Pakistan for their Turkish brothers and sisters.
He said Pakistan had already sent 500 tons of relief goods through different commercial flights and via Pakistan air force planes. So they hoped by the end of this month, they would be able to send something like 1300 tons of relief goods and in the month of March about 1700 tons of relief goods, he added. The prime minister said the bulk of it would be comprising winterized tents.
He informed that he had already directed for rapid manufacturing of the winterized tents which would be sent to Turkiye. “Our rescue teams are able to rescue 14 people from the rubble. But this devastation is beyond imagination,” he added. The prime minister said the federal cabinet and parliament of Pakistan had donated one month’s salary to the relief fund established for the earthquake-affected Turkish people. He said that he had also requested the people of Pakistan to express complete solidarity with the people of Turkiye.
The prime minister recollected that during the earthquake of 2005, floods of 2010 or last year floods in Pakistan, President Erdogan and the Turkish people went the extra mile to help the people of Pakistan with huge generosity. “It’s a colossal loss, so no amount of aid would be enough,” he observed while referring to the vast devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck different regions of Turkiye and Syria.
He said more than 30,000 people had died and they offered condolences for this devastating loss of lives and properties. “We are in a deep sense of grief and sorrow and prayed for the departed souls”, he added. To serve the suffering humanity in Turkiye, the prime minister said that the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should immediately convene a meeting, assuring that he would request the OIC secretary general to convene an emergency meeting, so that all the Muslim countries could decide immediate relief package for Tukiye.
He also urged the international community to play its role, as Turkiye needed their support. The prime minister cautioned that a similar situation could occur somewhere else, so the global community should accept the challenge and with collective efforts, support the quake victims. He said that it was not a question of point scoring or taking sides.
“It is a high time for the international community to come forward and contribute whatever they can for the rehabilitation of the earthquake-affected people,” he added. Lauding the leadership qualities of President Erdogan, the prime minister expressed the optimism that his government would come out of the crises, adding the people of Pakistan stood in complete solidarity with the Turkish people. He said Turkish people had also donated billions of dollars for their quake victims.
About the close ties between the two countries, the prime minister said that their hearts beat together, though they spoke different languages, but understood each other. They were like families. “That is the spirit and motivation, it goes back to centuries,” he further elaborated. Some people said that the friendship formed during Khilafat Movement, a movement which was led by Johar brothers in the Indo-Pak sub-continent, in which the Muslims had contributed whatever they could for their Turkish brethren.
“But the relationship goes back to centuries. It is unique in this world,” he observed. During last year flood in Pakistan, Turkiye had donated millions of dollars to the flood victims, with the provision of tents, medicines and the construction of schools. Turkish first lady also contributed her bracelet for the flood victims which reflected the highest level of empathy. It could only be done by the brothers and sisters.(APP)